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Publishers Weekly International

A Report from the Guadalajara International Book Fair
Sally Taylor -- 12/1/97

Guadalajara's USA coordinator David Unger with ALA's Associate Executive Director Peggy Barber

A record crowd (up 20 percent from last year), among them Mario Vargas Llosa, Juan Marse and Paulo C lho, filled the open-air Expo center in Guadalajara last weekend for the first days of the 10 day Guadalajara International Book Fair.While the major Spanish publishers talked business, children read, listened tostories and constructed their own books. Adoring readers met their favoriteauthors, and publishers enjoyed an endless string of happy reminders of whythey chose the book business in the first place.

Nearly 140 American librarians came as a group this year, in a co-sponsoredeffort of the American Library Association (ALA) and the organizers of the fair (FIL). The effort was considered so successful that they are working to make it an annual event. As major buyers of books in Spanish in the USA, 80 percent of these librarians had never been to Guadalajara, one of the cultural capitals of Hispanic America. Many had never even been to Mexico.

The fair brings publishers from all over the Spanish speaking world,including the USA. The goal is to promote new titles and the exchange ofreading materials between these markets. Because the fair is sponsored bythe University of Guadalajara, rather than any book industry organization,the tone is always cultural though the purpose is commercial.

This year's featured country, Argentina, offered some of the Spanishlanguage's favorite graphic artists, including Quino, creator of Mafalda. The artists came together to help award the annual prize for excellence in publishing to Ediciones de la Flor. The husband/wife team in Buenos Aires, Kuki Miler and Daniel Divinsky, has over 31 years presented all of the graphic artists to the world.

Among US publishers present were a number who consider Guadalajara anot-to-be-missed annual event, and another group of pleased first-timers,looking for better penetration into the Latin American markets. Ingram'sJanet Young, who is coordinating Latin American expansion for Ingram was inGuadalajara for the second year in a row. "New Age titles are very strong andgrowing, both in Spanish markets in the USA and all over Latin America," shereported.

Llewellyn's sudsidiary rights manager, Allison Olson, said her company was onhand for the fifth year in a row, in the biggest stand of any Americanpublisher. The company has a strong list of Spanish language translations of theirUSA titles, in the mind and spirit genre. "We're finding new clients from allover Latin America here," she told PW. "And we time our Spanish languagereleases for this show."

Oakland, Calif.-based Lonely Planet's Cathi Below found books moving off the shelves farfaster than she had expected. "We are selling out of titles the first dayhere," she told PW. "And we brought twice as many books as last year. Thelittle language phrasebooks are going especially well."

With an English-only list, the distribution of Lonely Planet books has beenlimited so far to the Mexico City area. LP did a mini-guide give-away toGuadalajara for professional participants in a bi-lingual English/Spanishversion they whipped up just two weeks before the Fair. It came from thepages of their upcoming guide to Mexico and was translated into Spanish inOakland.

Language, especially English as a second language, is a big part of thebusiness of American publishers in Latin America. Hugh Penton, Jr.,VP of Penton Overseas in Carlsbad, California, was sellinglocalized versions of his best sellers, Vocabu-learn and Learn English inYour Car, each of which has sold one million units. Lyric Language forkids is also selling well in both audio and video versions, at home and bysatellite into schools.

While the company sells titles in 30 languages, Spanish language products are50% of their foreign language business. They are just starting a languageproduct development program with Lonely Planet.

Meredith Hatch of McClanahan Books in New York was investigating potential markets south of the border for thefirst time and told PW she was encouraged by the co-publishing andtranslation proposals she was getting.

A full list of USA importers of Spanish language titles is available from David Unger.
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